2019 Preseason Top 25 Preview: No. 7 Stanford
Last Year: 46-12 (22-8 Pac-12); reached regional.
Final Ranking: No. 14.
Head Coach (record at school): David Esquer (46-12, one year).
Top 100 Draft Prospects: OF Kyle Stowers (No. 33), LHP Erik Miller (No. 66).
The Good News: Stanford returns a team that has the potential to put up big offensive numbers. Led by returners Andrew Daschbach, Kyle Stowers and Brandon Wulff, the latter of whom returns after an injury ended his junior campaign early in 2018. Combined with the talent and upside of sophomores Christian Robinson and Tim Tawa, the Cardinal will have a deep lineup that is tough to face. The duo of righthander Jack Little and lefthander Jacob Palisch in the bullpen was a major part of last year’s Pac-12 Conference championship team, and their return this season bodes well for the Cardinal pitching staff.
The Bad News: As offensive as the team has the potential to be, the question surrounding Stanford in 2019 will be how to replace righthander Tristan Beck and lefthander Kris Bubic—both of whom were drafted in the top 120 picks last June. Early on, Stanford will need to establish a true Friday night ace. Righthander Brandon Beck, Tristan’s younger brother, could be that guy, but most of his success and experience as a freshman came during midweek starts. Big lefthander Erik Miller is an X-factor for the Cardinal. He has a massive ceiling, but he has also struggled with control problems throughout his college career. Getting him on track would be a big boost. Righthander Will Matthiesen, a two-way player, will be leaned on to help fill a key spot in the rotation as well. Stanford also could move Palisch into the rotation, but keeping him and Little together in the bullpen would be prefered.
Player To Know: Maverick Handley, C.
Handley had his 2018 season end early after a skateboarding accident. In a conference that already has the likes of Oregon State catcher Adley Rutschman, sometimes a guy of Handley’s caliber could be overlooked. But before his injury last year, Handley’s defense was arguably as important as Rutschman’s. Now with a healthy return and improvements to his offense approach, Handley could be a key to Stanford’s success. His experience behind the plate could play a big factor in handling a pitching staff that will need to continue to develop.
Path To Omaha: It’s simple; the Cardinals will rely on a potent offense with experience to carry this team a long way. The healthy return of seniors Brandon Wulff and slick defender Duke Kinamon, along with the aforementioned Handley, gives Stanford some much-needed experience that they didn’t have at the end of last season. If Stanford can find consistency in their rotation, they should feel good toward the end of the game with Palisch and Little to close it out.
How Will Mid-Major College Baseball Programs Handle Eligibility Relief?
The announcement of eligibility relief for all baseball players provides an opportunity for mid-major programs, but it's far from a cheat code for teams at this level.
|2B||Brandon Dieter||Fr. (HS -- West Covine, Calif.)|
|SS||Duke Kinamon||R-Jr. (Did not play -- Injured)|